What is mentoring?

Mentoring aims to help an individual develop to their full capability and potential.  The scheme aims to help maximise potential, helping good doctors become even better doctors.

The agenda for the mentoring session is set entirely by the mentee.  The Severn mentoring scheme can assist with job transition, career choices and career development as well as personal development.

Mentoring has been defined as a process ‘Guiding another individual in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning and personal and professional development’.
(Standing committee on postgraduate medical and dental education 1998) Mentoring is however often defined by what it is not!  It is not supervision, therapy, patronage or appraisal.

The mentoring process is confidential1 and separate from other forms of supervision, assessment and evaluation in the training programme. 

Benefits to the mentee include improved performance and productivity, career advancement and greater confidence and wellbeing including issues such as achieving a better work-life balance and developing resilience in times of adversity. 

How does the Severn Obstetrics and Gynaecology mentoring scheme run?

At each new intake of Obstetrics and Gynaecology trainees at ST1 level the mentoring scheme coordinators send out an e-mail to the new trainees as well as trainees at ST3 level and above based in Bristol to identify a pool of mentees and mentors.

The mentees and mentors are then matched, ideally within the same hospital to facilitate meeting and the opportunity of working together.

The scheme is entirely voluntary and if a mentee or mentor finds that the matching process has not been successful a no-blame opt out is available for either party.

Potential discussion points:

  • Career aspirations
  • E-portfolio / work based assessments guidance
  • Work-life balance
  • Plans for out of programme activities
  • Reflecting upon difficulties  / situations

Do mentors need a specific skill set?

Ideally a mentor should have some training in the mentoring process rather than being an enthusiastic amateur. 

The deanery ran a mentoring and coaching study day as part of the regional SWOT programme and it is anticipated that training will be provided on an annual basis for those already in the scheme to refresh and develop their skills and those new to the scheme to acquire new skills.

The skills that a mentor requires are usefully those that a doctor requires, though of course the roles are entirely separate, the mentee is not a patient.

  • Allow the mentee to set the agenda
  • Good communication skills to reflect and articulate upon the issues being discussed
  • Active listening skills to recognise issues that the mentee is raising and to constructively challenge ideas
  • Being approachable, honest, non-judgemental and genuinely interested in the mentee
  • Provide subtle guidance but allow the mentee to make their own decisions, be facilitative
  • Awareness of the difference between empowering the mentee and providing advice

What are the aims for the Severn Mentoring scheme in the future?

The aim is that trainees will be able to be a mentee as well as provide mentoring themselves as they progress through their training.  As trainees finish their training and become consultants they will hopefully continue to provide mentoring to junior colleagues.

Feedback from both mentors and mentees will be obtained to monitor and evaluate the success of the scheme and to provide ideas about improvements to the scheme.

Severn Obstetrics and Gynaecology mentoring scheme code of conduct: -

The relationship between a mentor and mentee is confidential1 and personal within ethical boundaries.  There should be an agreement between the mentor and mentee not to divulge the content of the mentoring session.

Mentors should act within the principles of good medical practice.

Notes may be kept to facilitate future meetings but they should be as brief as possible.  Notes could, under extreme circumstances be required to be disclosed under the Data Protection Act.  The GMC can also subpoena confidential reports.

Mentors are specifically asked not to get involved with any mentee’s potential dealings with any outside body but can help to plan the mentee’s approach to coping with the effects of difficulties / problems.

1. Every doctor has a duty to prevent harm to patients.  If there is any indication that patients may be at risk the doctor should seek expert advice.

Any questions please do not hesitate to contact either Sarah Coleridge or Cressida Bond - Severn O and G Mentoring Scheme co-ordinators